Navigation, Style and Content

What are the keys to a good website? I think there are 3 main things. I have created this list from many years (6) spent reviewing websites.

Navigation, style and content. You can adapt that to NSC, or not. Not works for me, I’m not even sure how to say that.

Anyway, navigation is probably the most under rated website building thing. But, if people can’t find your content… what’s the point? Navigation needs to be simple, easy to use and easy to find. Some people hide navigation in graphics. Some of them hide it in text. Have you ever seen a site where you click on your browser type to enter it? There is nothing there to say “hey! this is how you enter my site!” Unless it’s a site for psychics, it’s not very useful and it’s a navigational flop. Not to mention pretty annoying for someone who spends time trying to find access to the site and gives up eventually.

I put content ahead of style because content is what people actually came to your site for. It wasn’t a demonstration of frames, flash or pop up ads. Hope that didn’t come as a shock to anyone. Content should be spelled right, proofread for typos and at least a little fact checking is a good idea. It’s also a good idea to change your content now and then. Ideally you should update your site as often as you want people to come in and visit it. If you want daily visits a blog is a good way to go. But, blog everyday with something at least a little unique and interesting. Focus is a good thing too. Being too diversified makes it hard for readers to know your voice and understand what you believe in, who you are. People like to see pictures of the people they read because they want to know who is behind the words.

Last, style, it’s kind of the buffer between your content and navigation. It’s what makes your site colourful, unique and gives it an attitude that people can see even before they start reading your content. But, style should not take over your site. After all, you want them to read your words too. Things like flash or a ton of graphics will drown you out. Also, people are not likely to wait for an unknown site to load. Especially when it’s just a bunch of graphics, not what they came for.

So, off you go. Put up your brilliant websites, make the rest of us green with envy. That, or you know we’ll be there to borrow your best ideas and adapt them for our own sites. Did I just type that… ignore that woman behind the curtain she knows way too many of my secrets.

Site Promotion and Emotion

One thing anyone reading this has in common is that we are writing online. Its a different market/ medium from print, obviously. But not always in obvious ways. The language is different. The rate at which content needs to be refreshed is much different. The problems with having content stolen are also different and more challenging. But, there is a huge audience out there, if you can lure them in. You don’t have to be a big ticket item like Woman’s Day, Cosmo or National Geographic to pull in readers. But, you do have to find a way of pulling them in.

One other difference that not a lot of writers take advantage of is self promotion. You can set yourself up as the controller of your own little empire. Add all the clips you want, promote them everywhere possible and even break into new markets by offering free content to other sites.

But, you do have to take those first steps and get yourself out there, into the community. A big part of doing that is a personal/ professional website. You really do need a place to hang your hat online, an address to send people to when they want to know more about you, see what you know and how you think. Also, of course what you have that someone else doesn’t already have.

One important thing is balancing personal and professional. Unless you have a couple of separate websites You need to make sure your website isn’t saying too much about you. There are some hobbies, collectibles, activities, political leanings you might not want to offer up right away. For me its Wicca. My sister was looking over my resume and was astonished that I had left in a reference to my BackWash column, Bewitching Vagabond. She strongly suggested I take it out. I decided she was right and I have removed it.

What about your own site? Is there anything there you need to consider a problem area? Assuming you have a site, of course.

Add a resume to your site too. Just don’t be careless about leaving your street address and phone numbers on there. Blank them out or just delete them.

Cranking It Out

Here’s something I found among a list of jobs for writers:

We are looking for writers to work on the following project:

– Author many short (100-200) word articles on a variety of keywords (keyword list will be provided).

– Author site map for your work.

– Ensure the content achieves an 8-12% keyword density rating.

– Ability to crank out at least 50 such articles a week


– Use Dreamweaver or Frontpage

– Know how to FTP content to a site

– Previous web writing experience (send URLs)


– Paid on a per article basis.

Is this the job for you? You can find it on if you want to. It sounds like they want someone to write spam, to me. I guess I still have a bit too much pride in my writing to consider it something I’d “crank out”.

I’m not being stuffy, just thinking of the work and creativity and craft involved in creating a readable article and then comparing that to something you’d crank out 50 times a week.

Could you do it? Even if you would take the job, could you write 50 short articles about random topics each week? I guess if it really didn’t matter how interesting or unique they were, you could. Of course, you have to consider how dense the keywords are. That seems to be the only content that matters.

Kind of sad if web writing comes to this, cranking out keywords for search engines to latch onto.

The funny thing is that search engines don’t all use spiders any more. Some have real people who aren’t impressed with a lot of half assed articles full of keywords. Even if those sites get listed and show up at the top of the search that’s no guarantee of getting clicks. Not real clicks that stick around and actually look at the site. After all, getting clicks isn’t enough. If people come to the site, find nothing and leave. You’re not ahead of the game.

So, it’s paying work for some writer. Not me though. Not that I couldn’t use the money. I just don’t want to be known for cranking out articles when I could be creating something unique, with real value.

Webby Moneymaker Awards

What a scam… I mean great set up. You pay $200 (a mere $100 US for personal sites) for the honour of being included. No wonder the whole thing has become entirely commercial and fricking worthless. With few exceptions the sites that won are nothing special and often high on their own spam content.

Blah! I would equate them with the American oscars too. Full of hot air and bull dung.

An award you pay for is worthless.

Webby Awards

Welcome to the 10th Annual Webby Awards Entry Form. Additional information is located within the links to the left. The personal information collected is used to communicate with you about your Webby Entries; more details can be found in our privacy policy. Please contact us if you have any questions or need assistance in entering your site.

Early Entry Deadline is October 28th, 2005

The discounted early entry deadline fee is $195 USD per site for each category entered.

(Note: to support a vibrant Web community, the fee for entering the Blog-Culture/Personal, Charitable Organizations/Non-Profit, NetArt, Personal Web Site, Student and Weird categories is $95 USD)”

Here are the categories, new and improved.

I’m so disgusted. I don’t think it was always a paying thing. If only sites that pay to win can be judged what is the point? They can call themselves the best site on the web but it’s a worthless title. They’re only being judged in a small pond, full of fat fish. Those of us who have sites up and do not pay to win an award could be better, without the side of spam.

It really annoys me that while people protest and get all paranoid about spam they also go all out to promote it. Too bad there isn’t a real Webby Award, for real sites offering real content, not a load of dung (bought and paid for).